'If it ain't broke, don't fix it': Why Rafa Benitez will want to keep these two players at Newcastle United

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

Thursday, 9th May 2019, 1:13 pm
Ayoze Perez.

And there’s not much wrong with Newcastle United’s front three aside from Miguel Almiron’s season-ending hamstring injury.

Almiron, Salomon Rondon and Ayoze just clicked when they played together.

Salomon Rondon. (Pic: Martin Swinney)

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Rondon and Perez had already developed an understanding before Almiron’s January arrival.

Almiron, a player capable of running with the ball at a frightening pace, added something more to the mix.

Between them, they have almost everything. There’s brains and brawn, and then there’s the pace of Almiron, who just makes things happen in the final third of the pitch.

Rondon and Perez are in double figures for Premier League goals.

Rafa Benitez. (Pic: Martin Swinney)

Back in February, I spoke to former Newcastle defender Steve Caldwell, now a TV analyst in Canada.

Caldwell felt that Almiron would be good to go in the Premier League – despite not having a pre-season.

“Once he gets the ball and he starts driving forward, you can’t stop him from behind,” said Caldwell. “He has the talent to dribble past people and the awareness to bring people in.”

At the time I wondered if Almiron would be coming off the bench for United most weeks given that he would need time to adjust to the physicality and intensity of the Premier League.

Rafa Benitez, however just pitched him in from the start from his second appearance – and United didn’t look back.

The 25-year-old took them higher up the field – and Rondon and Perez took their chances.

Almiron will be back on the field for Newcastle next season once he recovers from injury – but what about Perez? And Rondon?

Perez, tired of fighting relegation at United, is tempted by a fresh challenge, though Benitez believes he can persuade the 25-year-old to stay at St James’s Park if he himself stays at the club.

Rondon, meanwhile, says that his future is “out of his hands”, though the on-loan striker’s wage demands will most likely have a bearing on any summer move from West Bromwich Albion, his parent club.

The 29-year-old wants to stay St James’s Park, but Newcastle’s hierarchy baulked at his £16.5million release clause last summer because of his age.

Rondon’s not getting any younger, but he’s getting better.

“It’s like a wine,” joked Rondon after scoring in last weekend’s 3-2 home defeat to Liverpool.

This United team should age well if Benitez remains in charge.

There will be departures whether Benitez stays or goes, but if he has his way, then Rondon and Perez will again line up with Almiron at Newcastle next season.